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NHL Draft

2019 Draft: Top 10 centers

NTDP's Hughes, Turcotte, Zegras among best prospects at position

by Mike G. Morreale @mikemorrealeNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

In the days leading to the 2019 NHL Draft at Rogers Arena in Vancouver on June 21-22, NHL.com will break down the top prospects by position. Today: The top centers available.

An NHL team in need of a talented center to add to its prospect pipeline is in luck because the 2019 NHL Draft has plenty to offer.

There's a good chance as many as six centers will be selected in the top 15 this year at Rogers Arena in Vancouver. The first round is June 21 (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVAS). Rounds 2-7 are June 22 (1 p.m. ET; NHLN, SN).

 

[RELATED: Full 2019 NHL Draft coverage]

 

There were three centers selected in the top 15 at the 2018 NHL Draft (Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Montreal Canadiens, No. 3; Barrett Hayton, Arizona Coyotes, No. 5; Ty Dellandrea, Dallas Stars, No. 13). This year could be more like the 2017 NHL Draft when Nico Hischier (New Jersey Devils, No. 1) and Nolan Patrick (Philadelphia Flyers, No. 2) were the first of 10 centers to be taken with the first 15 selections.

Jack Hughes of USA Hockey's National Team Development Program Under-18 team will be the first of possibly three NTDP centers selected among the first 10 picks. The Devils have the No. 1 pick in the draft after winning the NHL Draft Lottery on April 9. The New York Rangers will pick No. 2 pick the Chicago Blackhawks No. 3.

Here are NHL.com's top 10 centers available for the 2019 draft:

 

1. Jack Hughes, USA U-18 (USHL)

NHL Central Scouting: No. 1 (North American skaters)

The projected top player available in the NHL Draft also is the best skater and most dynamic playmaker. Hughes (5-foot-10, 171 pounds) led the NTDP with 112 points (34 goals, 78 assists) in 50 games, and set the all-time record in career assists (154) and career points (228) in 110 games during two seasons at the program. The left-handed shot looks to become the fifth NTDP alum to go No. 1 in the draft, following Auston Matthews (Toronto Maple Leafs, 2016), Patrick Kane (Chicago Blackhawks, 2007), Erik Johnson (St. Louis Blues, 2006) and Rick DiPietro (New York Islanders, 2000). He had 20 points (nine goals, 11 assists) to help the United States to a bronze medal at the 2019 IIHF World Under-18 Championship. That's one off the single-tournament record of 21 points set by Nikita Kucherov of Russia in 2011.

Video: Highlights of USA Hockey NTDP forward Jack Hughes

 
2. Alex Turcotte, USA U-18 (USHL)

NHL Central Scouting: No. 4 (North American skaters)

The son of former NHL forward Alfie Turcotte, who played 112 NHL games in seven seasons with the Washington Capitals, Winnipeg Jets and Montreal Canadiens, was sixth in scoring at the NTDP this season with 62 points (27 goals, 35 assists) in 37 games despite missing 22 games with a lower-body injury. The 5-11, 186-pound left-handed shot, who will attend the University of Wisconsin in the fall, is an excellent scorer and playmaker who easily can raise the ire of the opposition while playing a disciplined game. He had nine points (four goals, five assists) for the U.S. at the World U-18 Championship.

Video: Highlights of USA Hockey NTDP forward Alex Turcotte

 
3. Kirby Dach, Saskatoon (WHL)

NHL Central Scouting: No. 3 (North American skaters)

Dach, who considers himself more of a pass-first than shoot-first forward, was third for Saskatoon with 73 points (25 goals, 48 assists), second with 23 assists on the power play, and first with 1.18 points per game in 62 games. The 6-4, 198-pound right-handed shot is smart on both sides of the puck, deceptively fast, has good vision and can beat opponents wide.

 
4. Dylan Cozens, Lethbridge (WHL)

NHL Central Scouting: No. 5 (North American skaters)

The 6-3, 183-pound right-handed shot is hopeful he can become the third player from Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada, to play in the NHL, joining forward Peter Sturgeon (Colorado Rockies, six games, 1979-80) and defenseman Bryon Baltimore (Edmonton Oilers, two games, 1979-80). Cozens is an elite skater with speed, size and a powerful shot. He was second for Lethbridge with 84 points (34 goals, 50 assists) in 68 games. He had nine points (four goals, five assists) for Canada at the World U-18 Championship.

 
5. Trevor Zegras, USA U-18 (USHL)

NHL Central Scouting: No. 6 (North American skaters)

Zegras has good patience with the puck, good on-ice vision and was one of the hardest-working players at the NTDP. The 6-foot, 173-pound left-handed shot was third on the NTDP with 87 points (26 goals, 61 assists) in 60 games. The Boston University recruit finds the seams, knows when to shoot and has deception and fearlessness in his game. Zegras, who can play center or left wing, had nine points, all assists, in five games for the U.S. at the World U-18 Championship.

Video: Highlights of USA Hockey NTDP forward Trevor Zegras

 

6. Peyton Krebs, Kootenay (WHL)

NHL Central Scouting: No. 10 (North American skaters)

Krebs (5-11, 183), who had 10 points (six goals, four assists) as captain for Canada at the IIHF World U-18 Championship, plays with great energy and can finish plays. The left-hand shot led Kootenay with 68 points (19 goals, 49 assists), 26 power-play points (eight goals, 18 assists), three shootout goals, and 538 face-off wins in 64 games. He had a goal and an assist and was named player of the game for Team Don Cherry at the 2019 CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game in January. Krebs had surgery to repair a partial tear in his Achilles tendon June 7 but he's expected to be ready for the start of NHL training camps.

 
7. Alex Newhook, Victoria (BCHL)

NHL Central Scouting: No. 13 (North American skaters)

A highly skilled player with good hockey sense, Newhook (5-10, 192) was Victoria's captain and led the British Columbia Hockey League with 102 points (38 goals, 64 assists) in 53 games. The left-handed shot, who creates and can finish plays with speed, was the first BCHL player since 2015-16 with more than 100 points. He is committed to Boston College starting next season. He tied Krebs for the Canada scoring lead with 10 points (five goals, five assists) in seven games at the World U-18 Championship.

 
8. Raphael Lavoie, Halifax (QMJHL)

NHL Central Scouting: No. 20 (North American skaters)

Lavoie (6-4, 199), a right-hand shot, won the Mike Bossy Trophy as the best professional prospect from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League after he had 73 points (32 goals, 41 assists) in 62 games. He led all players in the QMJHL playoffs with 20 goals in 23 games and was second with 32 points. He closed his season with three points (two goals, one assist) and 17 shots in four Memorial Cup games.

 
9. Philip Tomasino, Niagara (OHL)

NHL Central Scouting: No. 14 (North American skaters)

Tomasino (6-0, 183) is a dynamic skater capable of creating time and space while generating good scoring opportunities. The right-handed shot had 72 points (34 goals, 38 assists) in 67 games and led the Ontario Hockey League with 12 game-winning goals. He was voted runner-up for most improved player and third for best skater in the OHL Eastern Conference Coaches Poll.

 
10. Ryan Suzuki, Barrie (OHL)

NHL Central Scouting: No. 18 (North American skaters)

The younger brother of Montreal Canadiens prospect Nick Suzuki, Ryan led Barrie with 75 points (25 goals, 50 assists), 28 power-play points (eight goals, 20 assists) and four game-winning goals in 65 games. Suzuki (6-1, 180) was voted best playmaker and runner-up for smartest player and best stickhandler in the OHL Eastern Conference Coaches Poll.

 

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